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Page last updated at 20:23 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Smith makes Italian Magners plea

Osprey Filo Tiatia fends off Treviso's Wietz Tobias Botes
Osprey Filo Tiatia fends off Wietz Tobias Botes at Treviso

Treviso boss Franco Smith wants to see top Italian clubs in the Magners League after the Ospreys totalled 15 tries on consecutive weekends against them.

Smith said: "Italian teams entering the Magners League is a necessity."

He added: "It's negative to have sides from Italy playing in a competition like the Heineken Cup and just losing every week."

Italian officials are due to meet on 19 December in Bologna to discuss a way forward for their sport.

Italy lost all their November Tests and further misery has been piled on to the nation's leading players with Heineken Cup sides Treviso and Calvisano failing to register a win in the 2008-09 season's four opening rounds.

Smith hopes the Italian Rugby Federation's council can form a workable plan for the sport's future at that 19 December meeting and that the game's rulers act to help improve Italy's status at club and Test level.

He said: "We must make a plan together to get rugby to better rugby in the world and it would definitely be a step up for Italian rugby and for rugby in the Six Nations and a step up for world rugby and I think it would really be a good thing [for their clubs to enter the Magners League].

"The International Rugby Board has a policy in the world of making sides grow into the game."

Smith says it is unlikely Italian clubs' record in Europe will improve unless leading players are exposed to increased competitive intensity on a consistent basis.

He said: "If you play in this competition [Heineken Cup] week-in, week-out you learn to adapt to certain things.

"But if you get hammered for six weeks every year - only for six weeks - you can push the buttons by creating passion and pride - but they are smart, the players, and they realise it's only for six weeks.

"We've got to first break down that bridge of 'are we going to get to the next round or not?' and I think a lot of them realise every game is just tough on their bodies and it's a mental thing and it's only for six weeks a year.

"We need to play at this intensity 14 or 18 weeks a year, then we can prepare better and can give more players exposure because at this stage we are just using the same bunch of players."

The former South Africa fly-half added: "Foreigners come here [to play] - there's six or eight foreigners - and they go away and we bring in new foreigners the next year."

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see also
Italians may join Magners League
05 Dec 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
Magners Celtic League team guide
11 Sep 08 |  Rugby Union
Magners set to bring in play-offs
11 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Bennett critical of league set-up
08 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union

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